PTSD and Medical Emergencies

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A medical emergency is already a complex and dangerous situation. When an individual with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is involved on some level with the event, the risks and complexities of the situation may be increased. This is true whether the individual with PTSD is the victim, or is in some other way involved in the medical emergency.

When the Individual with PTSD is the Victim

There are unique challenges related to a medical emergency when the victim has PTSD. The biggest risk is that the specifics of the medical emergency can trigger the individual to re-experience the emotions and responses of the original event that caused the PTSD.

For example, a veteran might need to be transported via helicopter to the nearest hospital after a car accident. The sight and sound of the helicopter may trigger memories of time spent in a war zone. The individual will likely become overly emotional, irrational or paranoid, thus adding more risk onto an already dangerous situation. Even if he does not become a danger to others, there is most certainly a risk for the individual because of elevated heart rates and other physical impacts from the PTSD.

When the Individual with PTSD Is Present but not the Victim

The risks are even higher when the individual with PTSD is not the victim. In the example of helicopter transport, if the child of a parent with PTSD must be transported, this parent could pose a tremendous danger to the medical personnel. The individual with PTSD may try to stop the transport, and could even become violent. This response is based upon traumatic events from another time and place, but does not limit the risk for all involved.

How PTSD and Addiction Are Connected

One final consideration is the potential connection between PTSD and addiction. Often an individual with PTSD will begin to self-medicate with alcohol or other drugs in order to cope with the confusion and anxiety caused by the symptoms of this disorder. Instead of resolving the PTSD, this self-medication only adds another layer of difficulty into the person’s life. Abusing drugs and alcohol can increase an individual’s risk of being involved in accidents or violent altercations, and exacerbate the already distressing symptoms of PTSD.

Get Help Today

If you are struggling with an addiction problem, it can feel overwhelming. This is especially true if you are already struggling with PTSD. The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. We can help you. We can answer your questions. The admission counselors at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline can help you learn more about addiction. They can help you find your way.